German truckers to fight higher fuel charges

Association claims legal advice shows national ecotax programme is unconstitutional

Germany's road haulage industry is set to take on the government in the federal constitutional court after commissioning a report concluding that new ecotaxes introduced last April and extended from 1 January may be at odds with the country's constitution.

Alfred Zobel of the German Road Haulage Association (BGL), told ENDS Daily today that legal advice from tax experts at the University of Bonn showed that rising taxes on motor fuels went against the constitutional principle of equality. New fuel taxes would increase the cost of running the average German truck by euros 1,400 (DM2,800) per year for each of the next five years, he said, while agriculture, forestry and manufacturing industry were exempted.

Although German diesel tax is currently in line with the European average, the country's road haulage industry is under pressure from increased competition from eastern European countries. "The new tax is a very big problem," said Mr Zobel. "Competition is ever stronger, especially looking to the east. Germany is on eastern Europe's doorstep. A truck [from eastern Europe] can travel 3,000km without ever paying any German mineral oil tax. The mineral oil tax added to Germany's labour costs is just a step in the wrong direction. The industry is already in crisis and this is the straw which will break the camel's back".

The new round of ecotax which became effective on 1 January, will increase the price of motor fuels by euros 0.03 (DM0.06) per litre each year for five years (ENDS Daily 26 November 1999). The UK government recently ended a programme of annual motor fuel tax rises, known as the fuel duty escalator (ENDS Daily 9 November 1999) after pressure from its road haulage industry (ENDS Daily 12 April 1999).

Follow Up:
BGL, tel: +49 69 79190.

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